Even the most powerful people in America aren’t immune to a simple email phishing scam, as a UK prankster gleefully found out this week.
Unlike with many phishing scams – where the phisher will pretend to be someone trustworthy to gain the confidence of a victim – this UK prankster wasn’t trying to steal sensitive information. Rather he simply wanted to trick some pretty important people into replying to his emails, under the belief they were talking to a work colleague.
The prankster – working under the Twitter handle Sinon_Reborn – targeted several high profile White House staffers including Homeland Security advisor Tom Bossert, both Trump sons and even now-outed Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci.
The pranks were simple. He simply created fake email accounts under the name of other White House staffers and sent out emails under their names and waited to see if anyone took the bait and replied.
And many did. Here are the three of the more memorable moments.
3. Scaramucci and Othello
Probably one of the staffers the prankster Sinon_Reborn wanted to target would have been now ex-Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, given his high profile spat with ex-Chief-of-Staff Reince Priebus.
Setting up an email address under Priebus’s name, the prankster emailed Scaramucci and called him “hypocritical” as well as accusing him of acting in a way that was “in no way remotely classy””. The email clearly hit a nerve as Scaramucci reportedly emailed back (under the belief he was talking to Priebus)
You know what you did. We all do. Even today. But rest assured we were prepared. A Man would apologize
The UK prankster posing as Priebus hits back…
I can’t believe you are questioning my ethics! The so called ‘Mooch’, who can’t even manage his first week in the White House without leaving upset in his wake. I have nothing to apologize for.
And Scaramucci fires back once more, directing “Priebus” to read Othello…
— EMAIL PRANKSTER (@SINON_REBORN) August 1, 2017
2. Briefly tricking Eric Trump he was his own brother
For a brief time, Sinon_Reborn actually managed to trick Eric Trump that he was his own brother by sending him an email link to a hunting rifle posing as Donald Jr. Initially sceptical, Eric asked “did you send this?” before apologising and saying he was sceptical of opening up links. Shortly after the penny dropped for Eric who said he was sending the emails to law enforcement.
3. Inviting Homeland Security advisor to a party
As a Homeland Security advisor, there are not many excuses for falling for such a primitive phishing scam, so we imagine Tom Bossert was rather embarrased for not only falling for such a scam but also willingly handing out his personal email address to the prankster at the earliest opportunity.
The prankster – posing as Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner – invited Bossert to an evening soiree at the end of August. Bossert happily agreed to attend, and offered his personal email address to the prankster. See below.
It goes to show that anyone is potentially vulnerable to a simple phishing scam. Remember, just because the email appears to have come from someone you know, it could still be anyone!